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Thu, Jun 17



Continuing Conversation Series: Innovative Initiatives for Sustaining and Growing Language Programs in Higher Education

As a profession, we can help grow and support language programs in higher education by focusing on advocacy, innovative curricula, and better articulation.

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Continuing Conversation Series: Innovative Initiatives for Sustaining and Growing Language Programs in Higher Education
Continuing Conversation Series: Innovative Initiatives for Sustaining and Growing Language Programs in Higher Education

Time & Location

Jun 17, 2021, 4:00 PM EDT


About the event

The last two MLA reports on enrollments in languages other than English in higher education (2013 and 2016), show an overall drop in enrollments. However, the reports also point to areas of stability and even growth across languages and levels. This panel will discuss the possible causes of the general decline as well as the ways in which, as a profession, we can help reverse this downward trend focusing on advocacy, innovative curricula, and better articulation.  

This event is free of charge to all language advocates! Please consider supporting the next 40 years of language advocacy by making a donation of $40.  



Professor of Spanish Linguistics, University of Utah 

Fernando Rubio is Professor of Spanish Linguistics at the University of Utah, where he is also Director of the Second Language Teaching and Research Center (a Title VI National Language Resource Center). He serves or has served on a number of professional organizations for the past two decades including the Utah Foreign Language Association, The Modern Language Association, The College Board and ACTFL. He is currently President Elect of the National Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations.


Professor of Russian, Hofstra University 

Benjamin Rifkin (BA, MA – Russian Studies from Yale, PhD – Slavic from Michigan) is a prominent scholar and leader in the field of world language education. Having served in leadership positions at Middlebury’s Russian School, Temple University, the College of New Jersey, and Ithaca College, he is now Professor of Russian at Hofstra University. Rifkin was an ACTFL OPI tester and trainer and consulted on the 2012 revision of the Proficiency Guidelines.  He has served on the Boards of Directors of several of the field’s organizations and was most recently recognized with ACTFL’s Wilga Rivers Award.


Executive Director, International Engineering Program & Professor of German, University of Rhode Island

Sigrid Berka is the Executive Director of the International Engineering Program (IEP) and Professor of German at the University of Rhode Island. She is co-editor of the Journal of International Engineering Education (JIEE) and organizer of the Annual Colloquium on International Engineering Education (ACIEE). Berka received the DAAD Alumni Association’s Excellence Award for Educational Exchange and the URI Administrative Excellence Award (2019). The IEP was awarded NAFSA’s Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award for innovative campus internationalization (2011), and the Andrew Heiskell Award (2012) by the Institute for International Education. Berka studied at RWTH Aachen, Washington University, St. Louis and

UCSB, Santa Barbara.


Director of Programs and the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages, Modern Language Association

Since 2014, Dennis Looney has served as director of the Office of Programs and director of the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages at the Modern Language Association. From 1986 to 2013, he taught Italian at the University of Pittsburgh. Publications include Compromising the Classics: Romance Epic Narrative in the Italian Renaissance (1996), and Freedom Readers: The African American Reception of Dante Alighieri and the Divine Comedy

(2011), which received the American Association of Italian Studies Book Prize in 2011. More recently, he edited and translated Ludovico Ariosto’s Latin Poetry (2018).


Utah Bridge Program Director

Dr. Jill Landes-Lee is director of the Advanced Language Bridge Program at the University of Utah, where she has worked to build sustainable partnerships across the K-16 educational system, including the State Board of Education, Utah System of Higher Education, the state legislature, and communities across 22 districts, 69 high schools, and all 6 of Utah’s 4-year public universities. Her work with education policy focuses on reimagining “college readiness” via equitable access and academic excellence for bilingual, multicultural education and advanced course work in high school. Recent research has focused on the college aspiration-achievement gap, and on college readiness indicators for historically underrepresented populations.

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